You Negotiate For Your Clients, But Who Negotiates For You? Top 10 Tips for Salary Negotiations No matter how zealously we represent our clients, and no matter how much money we may ask for those clients to be compensated, when it comes to negotiating our own salaries we often seem to have forgotten everything we’ve learned. A critical point to remember for successfully negotiating your salary is that your confidence and assertiveness are what makes you such a strong negotiator to begin with. Be sure not to make the common mistake of checking those necessary skills at the door! By faithfully following these ten simple steps you will be able to walk away from your own salary negotiations feeling successful and triumphant! 1. Be Calm, Cool and Collected Attorneys are expected to be confident. In the field of law, perhaps more than any other, it is perceived as a weakness to display a lack of confidence. Our egos are what make us such strong advocates for our clients. When you walk into that office to negotiate your salary, envision that you are representing your most powerful client. This is your perfect opportunity to successfully settle your case, and you would never consider taking one dime less than what the client’s case is worth, so why would you do the same for yourself? 2. Do Your Homework You wouldn't dare show up to a mediation or settlement conference and attempt to settle your case by plucking a number out of the clear blue sky. You also shouldn’t expect a salary amount that is equally as random. Attorneys’ salaries are based on a number of varying factors, but it’s really up to you to present a range that is based on your specific situation. It’s also in your best interest to find a way of proving that you’re in the upper end of that salary range as well. Some of the factors that will affect your salary are: size of the firm or business, both in number of attorneys and the size of cases the firm handles; the number of years you have been in practice; geographical location; area of law; and the average salaries for other similarly situated attorneys. 3. Begin with Subtle Compliments It’s no secret that we all like to hear how wonderful other people may think we are. Since you don't want to sound disingenuous you must be sure to spend some time thinking about what it is that impresses you most about your boss. It’s imperative to sincerely convey how thankful you are to have such a strong mentor.
However, if you truly cannot come up with anything positive about your boss, and unfortunately many of us in the legal field cannot, then imagine your ideal mentor and try to transfer those attributes to your boss in a sincere and believable manner. 4. Think outside the Box and Convey Your Flexibility Your compensation should satisfy a variety of needs, not just your salary. Make sure you have thought about other types of compensation that may be available such as yearly bonuses, profit sharing, a 401-K program, a quicker promotion track, or even additional vacation hours. Also be sure to convey that although you are asking for more compensation you are willing and able to give more in return as well. 5. Check Your Emotions or Your Financial Needs at the Door One of the reasons successful negotiators are able to do so well for their clients is because they are not emotionally tied to the outcome. From the perspective of the attorney, it is all about numbers and the bigger the better of course. But somehow, when it comes time to negotiating for ourselves, we’re unable to communicate our needs logically and effectively. You’ll never persuade your boss to pay you a higher salary because you chose to get yourself into debt or because you want to buy a new home or vehicle. If need be, adopt a mind-set that is confident and self-assured in order to believe you are negotiating for a third party. 6. Outline How You Will Increase Your Responsibilities Nobody likes to get nothing for something. In order for your boss to justify taking money out of his or her own pocket, they must be able to appreciate the value of your work and what you bring to the company. One thing attorneys never have enough of is time! If you want your boss to part with more money and give you a raise, the most enticing thing you can say is to offer new ideas and solutions on how to expand their free time. Describe all of the ways that you intend to branch out and take on more responsibility. Be sure to highlight your experience and how you add a unique touch to your work and to the company with your efficiency and forward-thinking. 7. Anticipate Opposition or Resistance If you are able to anticipate the reasons your boss will be hesitant to pay what you’re asking for, you can prepare yourself and have a response or rebuttal planned ahead of time.
Here are some of the common arguments you may be faced with. You are asking me to pay more than the statistical average. If I increase your salary by that amount, will you be asking for double that next year? Why don’t we keep your salary where it is and if we have a good year, I’ll make it up to you in your bonus? 8. Hold Your Ground Unfortunately this is the only aspect of your negotiations that you can completely control. Take advantage of all of the advice you have read and remind your boss of just how skilled you are. You must remain confident and strong in your position; remind your superior of recent accomplishments or achievements Although you may not ultimately receive the salary you anticipated or hoped for, at least your boss will have confidence in your ability to negotiate and will have been reminded of your valuable skills. This experience may also help you for future rounds of salary negotiations as well. 9. Consider your Alternatives In the event you are unable to persuade your boss to agree to a higher salary, you need to have a back-up plan in mind. A critical aspect of preparing for negotiating your salary is to create a specific course of action. This way you’ll know what your alternative options are ahead of time if you have to walk away from the table. 10. Critique Yourself An excellent way to improve your negotiating skills is to learn from past experiences. After you have completed your salary negotiations, reflect on what you did or said that may have worked well and also focus on what you might want to do differently next time.